"We don't want to be dictated to by Hobart bureaucrats".
That was the resounding message of a lengthy hearing on Tuesday afternoon, which focussed on the relocation of the Burnie Court Complex about three kilometres out of the CBD.
One by one, architects and engineers, private citizens, the Burnie City Council, and Business Northwest made their submissions to the Public Works Committee, a panel made up of state members of parliament from both the lower and upper houses.
The entire committee was present to hear the Department of Justice's project proposal as well as the public submissions, aside from Braddon MP Felix Ellis.
The Committee is required to assess and approve the spending of public funds on public works where the estimated cost of completion exceeds $5 million.
Among the submissions was a scathing presentation from the council, delivered by mayor Steve Kons and councillor Ken Dorsey.
"Actually, you have achieved something. This has actually drawn the community together in opposition," Cr Dorsey said.
"It's united the community against the state government, it's given the community common purpose."
Cr Kons told the committee that the Justice Department had created their proposal based on the "furphy" that there weren't any suitable sites available in the CBD.
"To come in here and tell us that nothing was available ... its just a waste of money," he said.
"I have purchased recently land within the CBD off the market, that's where you go to get your bargains. You don't just call a real estate agent and ask what's available."
Committee member and MLC Jen Butler asked how Cr Kons, as a former Attorney-General himself, would have gone about the project.
"Not as an Attorney-General, but as a good businessman, I would go out with an expressions of interest to see if there are more appropriate sites," he responded.
Business Northwest president Ian Jones told the hearing the move would severely impact businesses in the CBD.
The Committee had heard from the Justice Department that about 50,000 people a year used services in the court. This did not include court staff, lawyers, police or family and friends of those appearing.
"It's a project of bureaucracy and ministerial incompetence," Mr Jones said.
"You can't just get on Google Earth and realestate.com and say there's nothing here.
"We don't want to be dictated to by Hobart bureaucrats."
Melbourne-based architect Malcolm Elliott also made a submission, telling the committee that moving the courts worked against the state's own planning policies.
"Regional towns are even more important than cities to try and keep the commercial activity not fragmented," he said via video link to Melbourne.
"You're taking employment out of the centre. The new court complex should be given every opportunity to stay in the CBD. You'd be surprised at what an expressions of interest might deliver."
The written submissions will be published later in the week.
It is understood the Committee's decision will not be publicly known until a report is published, which is then tabled at parliament.
Mr Ellis will still have a right to vote.
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